Thesis 1. God was the immediate and unique efficient cause in the formation of the first human body.




We ask whether God was the efficient cause, not only the first, but also the immediate and unique cause of the formation of the first human body.

We say the formation and not the creation, because the human body was not made ex nihilo by God, as Sacred Scripture explicitly states, but out of some pre-existing matter, indeed from “the mud of the earth” (Gen 2:6); this expression implying the material elements of the earth.

The human body, as scientific analysis reveals, contains in its complex and marvelous composition, the elements of non-organic beings and of the lower organic beings, in such a way that the material composition of the human body and of physical beings in exactly the same.

The admixture of elements of this sort differs widely according to the diverse species of things, but it is always the same elements, more or less complex, which make up the admixtures.

Here we are asking, in relation with the efficient cause of the human body: whether God formed the body of the first man by His direct operation per se Ipsum, or whether, on the contrary, He imparted power to some brutes, say of the kind we call anthropoids, that they might evolve physically and psychologically into a body capable of receiving in itself a rational soul created by God. In this case God would have been the real first cause of the body of Adam, but in the same way He would be acting as in generation, in which God operates through the parents. Wherefore the parents are indeed secondary efficient causes of their children whose bodies are generated by them. In the same way that brute would have been the efficient cause of the body of Adam.




We omit the errors of absolute Evolutionism or Transformism, which proclaiming the universal law of evolution, foolishly presume that all living species, and the human species itself, gradually emerged from the most imperfect organisms, without finality, without order and without the intervention of any directing intellect, by mere chance. This error must be rejected, as being totally in opposition to the dogma of creation.

Here we are considering the opinion of certain Catholics who, though rejecting absolute Transformism, think that a certain mitigated Transformism could be postulated, according to which and under the direction of God, the inferior organisms rose up or evolved to the higher ones, in such a way that the body of man had its origin from some brute organism, by special intervention of God’s providence. […]

Now we will talk about anthropological Transformism in particular, viz. about the origin of the body of man by evolution.

The Catholic authors, who support this theory as being probable, are: Leroy, Zahm, A. and J. Bousonie, Theillard de Chardin, Breuil. Sertilanges, Pinard de la Bolaye, Leonardi and Marcozzi.

The reasons they advanced can be summarized as follows:


A. A posteriori.

(1) From Anatomy. There is an astonishing similarity between the structure of the bodies of brutes, which attain the height of perfection in nature, and the structure of the human body.

(2) From Embryology. The human body in its state of fetal formation goes through diverse forms of the body of brutes in such a way that it seems truly to express the statement of evolutionists. The evolution of the individual manifests the evolution of the species, by reproducing diverse forms through which the human species pasts.

(3) From Paleontology. They hold that the anthropomorphic forms found among the fossils and belonging to diverse ages, rise from a type that is similar to simian, to forms that are increasingly like the modern form of homo sapiens.

They claim that all these things could be explained if the doctrine of the evolution of species was admitted to be true. Wherefore, they claim, this doctrine is to be considered at least probable.


B. A priori.

The evolution of the human body from inferior species is more convenient to the wisdom of the Creator and to the dignity of man, than a direct creation from God. Hence man appears to be at the peek of the whole sensible creation, according to the:

- material cause, in so far as the material elements attain in man the highest perfection;

- final cause, because all the inferior things are ordained to the use and service of man;

- efficient cause, for all the sensible nature appears ordained to the substantial part of man, which is the body, and reveals that it can produces a very perfect life, which is virtually contained in all inferior life, extracting them out from the powers of nature created by God.

Hence, it appears clearer the doctrine of the progressive actuation of prime matter, as it is exposed by St Thomas when he says:

“… prime matter is in potency, first of all, to the form of an element. When it is existing under the form of an element it is in potency to the form of a mixed body; [2] that is why the elements are matter for the mixed body. Considered under the form of a mixed body, it is in potency to a vegetative soul, for this sort of soul is the act of a body. In turn, the vegetative soul is in potency to a sensitive soul, and a sensitive one to an in­tellectual one. This the process of generation shows: at the start of generation there is the embryo living with plant life, later with animal life, and finally with human life. [3] After this last type of form, no later and more noble form is found in the order of generable and corruptible things. Therefore, the ultimate end of the whole process of gen­cration is the human soul, and matter tends toward it as toward an ultimate form. So, elements exist for the sake of mixed bodies; these latter exist for the sake of living bodies, among which plants exist for animals, and animals for men. Therefore, man is the end of the whole order of genera­tion.” (C. Gentes 3:22)

This is really in harmony not only in relation with the material and final causes, but even with the efficient cause, about which the Transformists treat about.




Thesis 2: Anthropological Evolutionism, in teaching that the body of Adam was derived from the body of a brute, even explained by a special intervention of God, must be totally rejected.


A. Magisterium.

The Teaching of the Church not only does not favor the Transformist opinion, but expressly rejects it.

The Pontifical Biblical Commission affirmed that it is not lawful to put into doubt the “peculiar creation of man” from God. (Denz. 2123) This “peculiar creation” must not be restricted only to the creation of the soul. All Catholics never doubted about the creation of man’s soul by God; hence, the answer of the Biblical Commission is directed against the new Evolutionist doctrines, in regard to the interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis.

Some Catholic authors who affirmed the origin of the body of the first man from brutes, were repeatedly condemned by the Church [Holy Office]. Among them, Leroy [4] and Zahm, [5] were forced to retract publicly from their opinions.

The Council of Cologne (1860) explicitly condemned the Evolutionist error by declaring:

“It is contrary to Sacred Scripture and to the faith the opinion of those who do not fear to affirm the spontaneous evolution of an imperfect nature towards another more perfect; a continuous evolution producing finally man, at least as to his body.” (Coll. Lact. V, 292)

These declarations and prohibitions of the Magisterium, it is true, do not equal to an infallible definition of the Church; nevertheless they have a heavy weight manifesting the sense of the Church on this matter. They should not be restricted to mere disciplinary matters, because they are connected with many other more important things as it is the origin of man.


B. Proof.

a. Holy Scripture.

From the narrative of man’s creation in Genesis, it appears that the formation of his body also was accomplished by a special Divine action.

Not only God breathed into his face “the breath of life,” in such a way that man was formed in a living being, but God Himself shaped the body of man “from the mud of the earth,” for He said:

“And God [Elohim] said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: […] And God [Elohim] created man to his own image: to the image of God [Elohim] he created him: male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:26-27)

God’s operation involved both the soul and the body:

“And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth [de limo terrae]: and breathed into his face the breath of life [spiraculum vitae], and man became a living soul [animam viventem].” (Gen 2:7)

After saying God: “Let the earth bring forth the living creature in its kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth, according to their kinds,” He said when God created man: “Let us make man” (Gen. 1:24)

The secondary causes cooperating in the formation of man are not indicated, as they are in the formation of other living creatures, but only the material cause is indicated, from which the elements of formation are taken. Unlike the body of Adam, the body of Eve also was formed not by evolution, but by the efficiency of God alone, for He created them male and female. The whole human race therefore, both as to the soul and as to the body, is efficienter and immediate from God, from the beginning or from our first parents.

In the quoted text, certain anthropomorphism is evident, for God is shown as a craftsman shaping a statue and bringing it to life by the breathing of His mouth. Which things are to be understood in a figurative sense. But this figurative sense proves that man is from God through His immediate action is a special way, which does not apply to other animals, both as to the soul and as to the body. For the efficient cause, both of body and of soul, is God alone. Thus the anthropomorphism is explained.

It is absolutely certain that all holy writers who after Moses referred to the creation of man in the other books of Holy Scripture are completely unaware of any derivation of man’s body from the body of a brute animal:

“Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay, and thou wilt bring me into dust” (Job 10:9);

Thy hands have made me and formed me” (Ps. 118:73);

“Thou madest Adam of the slime of the earth, and gavest him Eve for a helper.” (Tob. 8:8);

“And the dust return into its earth, from whence it was, and the spirit return to God, who gave it.” (Eccli. 12:7);

“I myself am a mortal man, like all others, and of the race of him, that was first made of the earth.” (Wis. 7:1);

The first man was of the earth, earthly: the second man, from heaven, heavenly. Such as is the earthly, such also are the earthly: and such as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly. Therefore, as we have borne the image of the earthly, let us bear also the image of the heavenly.” (1 Cor. 47-49)

The evolutionary interpretation seems to be excluded by the very words used in Sacred Scripture, because man, either by inspiration or by the infusion of a soul, was made into a living being (Factus est in animam viventem), into a living animal (לנפשׁ חיה) as the Hebrew text expresses it. Therefore the body of man was not alive beforehand, not even with mere sensitive life like the body of a brute, but it acquired its animality only through the [rational] soul which was infused by God. Therefore the body of man was not formed by evolution from the body of a brute.


b. Tradition.


We say nothing surprising if we said that all the Fathers are completely ignorant of evolution, for in their time they could not even imagine it.

The Fathers explained the Genesis narrative according to the literal sense, passing over the anthropomorphism but keeping the literal sense explained above. They specifically derived the great dignity of our flesh from the very fact that the body itself was immediately made by God out of the dust of the mud. (Cf. Enchiridion Patristicum, Rouët de Journel, Index Theologicus 225)

That the human body was previously the body of a beast –there is not even a suspicion of this– all the Fathers would been appalled if anyone had dared to offer this suggestion…

When St Augustine refers to “rationes seminales” he is postulating that all things were created together at the same moment (Cf. Eccli. 18:21): “qui vivet in aeternum creavit mnia simul,” which literally is interpreted of simultaneity of time. Therefore the creation of the bodies of Adam and Eve was in two stages: the first, when everything was made on the sixth day, and the second when they were made from mud and the rib. (Cf. De Genesis ad litt., VI 9-10)

This pre-existence of the human body in St Augustine’s thought is only according to the material cause and according to active causes which operated to enable the body of man to be made from the mud of the earth, i.e. to make the mud suitable for this work.(Ibid. VI 15-26)

The best interpretation of this doctrine of the holy Doctor is the explanation of St Thomas who distinguishes a double pre-existence according to the “rationes causales:

“An effect may be said to pre-exist in the causal virtues of creatures, in two ways. First, both in active and in passive potentiality, so that not only can it be produced out of pre-existing matter, but also that some pre-existing creature can produce it. Secondly, in passive potentiality only; that is, that out of pre-existing matter it can be produced by God. In this sense, according to Augustine, the human body pre-existed in the previous work in their causal virtues.” (Whether the human body was immediately produced by God? Ia q. 91 a. 2 ad 4um)

Properly speaking there can be no evolution unless in each case they pre-existed the body of Adam and Eve.


c. Philosophical and Theological reasons.


The evolutionary doctrine must be rejected both on account of scientific, philosophical and theological reasons.

The similarities between the brute animals, even the higher ones, and man as to their physical parts are not so great that one can pass over the greater dissimilarities, as even the exponents of evolution are forced by the evidence to admit.

There is an essential and specific difference between the bodies of brutes and the human body, for the human body is ordered to a rational soul as to the proper form which differs specifically and essentially from the [sensitive] soul which is the form of the brute body. But according to the transformation theory it is to be supposed that the lower organisms tend by their own nature towards a higher nature, which is specifically different. This is against the ontological principle of finality, which states that the natural tendency is towards the full realization of one’s own being, not towards some other being, which is not contained within one’s own natural perfection and would involve the destruction of the evolving organism.

The ontological principle of finality is also reflected in a certain principle of Psychology, if I may say so, which regulates the consciousness of each animal intrinsically, according to which no animal wishes to become another animal, even one of higher level of perfection.

If anyone claims that Adam’s body was derived from the body of some anthropoid beast, he would be obliged to consider it as the same species as the body of the brute, that is to say, that the brute and man do not differ specifically, as the exponents of evolution do not fear to assert.


C. Confirmation of our thesis.


We will confirm our thesis by answering to the objections brought by the Evolutionists.

a. The arguments from Biology and Embryology strictly prove nothing; for not only they lack similarities between the members of the human body and the body of the brutes and between the embryos of both, but also great differences, which equally demand explanation.

Biologists commonly teach and prove that there are essential differences already present in the first elements of the human body and they vigorously deny that those similarities, which the evolutionists gratuitously assert. The specific differences appear to be of far greater import than the generic similarities.

And furthermore, an argument of this sort (“there are two or several similar things among them, therefore one proceeds from the other”) holds neither in logic, nor in ontology, which is the bases of logic. They can be explained by the unity of order which the Creator conceived and outlined in His mind, all the most so because all living things are destined to live their lives in the same physical world and exercising similar functions. The physical link, because all living things live in the same world, can adequately explain the analogies that exist between them without it being necessary to postulate a genetic link.

On these matters, sincere scientists, who consider proven an objective fact, not mere conjecture, teach different things. They assert unanimously that universal evolution is no way certain, nor is the evolution of man from beasts.


b. The arguments from Paleontology are simply weak in the eyes of scientists themselves for postulating a law of universal evolution, for the links between the various fossils forms are missing. The fossils found today appear too diverse and remote from each other, exceedingly determined in themselves and wonderfully apt for pursuing their own immediate ends, such that the derivation of one from others demands an inexplicable skipping of stages.

This fact very greatly undermines the theory of evolution and completely overturns the bases on which the theory is based. For this doctrine would be valid if a law of general evolution held good. But this is not the case.

Concerning the anthropoid forms found among the fossils it is to be noted that there is a strong and vigorous debate among scientists about the greater or lesser antiquity and chronology of those forms; that it has never been proved that those forms, which are called inferior, preceded the superior ones in time. Wherefore they could possibly be considered as parallel lines and particular branches of the same, rather than forms derived one from another. Human forms, which they say are the closest to the forms of primate are always remarkably distinct from them, even though they are “higher;” but not so distant from the human forms, living everywhere in the world today, that they are not found also in certain modern men. Furthermore, as some scientists have noted, the apparently animal similarities of certain branches of fossilized men could also be explained by the degeneration of the one truly human and perfect root, which misery and sad events may have cast into darkness.

From all of these, one sees how weak is the argument from Paleontology.


c. Answers to the arguments a priori.


We deny that this derivation of man’s body from the brute suits the wisdom of the Creator better than its immediate production from Him. For even if we concede the intrinsic possibility of this type of origin, by the power of God using the brute as the instrument of His work, nonetheless it is highly appropriate that man clearly perceives his distance from the beasts also in his own physical production, especially since he has by his intellect an immediate relation to God beyond all animals, being ordained by his very nature to the knowledge and praise of the Creator, and destined to be raised to an adopted son of the same God.

And moreover it does not seem right that God compels creatures to do that which exceed their natural strength and which entails the destruction of their own specific nature.




Therefore anthropological Transformism, just like all Transformism properly speaking, is to be rejected, since it is in no way proved that it is indeed a certain fact found in  nature; especially since it is no more than a hypothesis, possibly not absurd in itself, but contradicted by so many and such great philosophical, physical and theological difficulties.

Fr. Sergy affirms in his book Le razzi e i popoli della terra:

“Very many anthropologists have imagined wonderful fables about human origins indulging the play of their fantasy. From Darwin onwards nothing satisfactory can be demonstrated on this matter.”

Let us conclude by the Speech to the Pontifical Academy of Science given by Pope Pius XII:

“To this day, science reveals to us nothing which is positive, clear and certain about the origin of man” (February 21st1943)


[1] Taken from Cursus Manualis Theologiae Dogmaticae (De Deo Creatore), by Fr. Marcolinus Daffara O.P.

[2] The “mixed body” is composed of any combination of two or more of the four elements (earth, air, fire, water). See St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, Ia q. 76, a. 4, ad 4um

[3] Cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, Ia q. 118 a. 2, c. and ad 2um

[4] Fr. Leroy was forced by the Holy Office to withdraw from circulation his book “L’évolution restrainte” in 1885.

[5] Fr. Zahm was also forced to withdraw his book “Evolution and Dogma,” originally printed in English, but its Italian translation was denounced to the Holy Office by the bishop of Cremona, Msgr. Bonomelli in 1898.